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The Gems of the Rockies

This is what skiing in Colorado is all about. Our mountain correspondent Jules took a visit last winter to Sunlight Mountain Resort. Featuring hassle-free access, no lift lines, great snow, terrain for every type of skier and snowboarder, and very reasonable prices, Sunlight is areal gem of a ski resort.

With the Colorado Gems Card, you can have a blast at eight independent, uniquely Colorado ski areas at half price. For just $20, the Gems Card allows you to purchase two adult lift tickets for the price of one at each of the resorts listed below. The card pays for itself the first time you use it, and you can purchase as many Gems cards as you like (while they’re still available, and they’re selling fast!).

The Gems Card is your ticket to ride all over Colorado Ski Country USA. Whether you’re adding some variety to whatever season pass product you might have, or you’re buying one so you can enjoy a day on the slopes with your Passport-holding 5th or 6th grader, it’s an unbeatable value. Throughout the winter, Gems Card holders will have exclusive access to special deals and promotions at each participating resort in addition to that great deal on lift tickets, so buy one (or several) today.

Here are Colorado’s Gem Resorts:

Arapahoe Basin

There are many reasons that Colorados Arapahoe Basin is called The Legend. A-Basin boasts the longest ski and ride season in the state, opening mid-October and closing in early June. Most of A-Basins skiing is above treeline, with sweeping, 360-degree vistas. Known for steeps, bumps and top-to-bottom groomers, A-Basin also has two learning areas for beginners of all ages. A-Basin is investing $2.3 million in the new Kids Center, a home base for Snowsports students, opening in 2015. Come explore The Beach, ski the Pali and aprs with a Bacon Bloody Mary in the 6th Alley Bar & Grill make your Colorado experience legendary.

Eldora

Among the closest resorts to Denver, Eldora offers a short, no-hassle drive and is a quick 21 miles from Boulder. Besides its charming local flavor, Eldora is best known for its diverse terrain, cross-country center and outstanding childrens SnowSports school. Eldora is one of Colorados best-kept secrets for families. Kids of all ages love learning to ski or ride in the Eldorables and Ski & Snowboard Trek Programs. Eldora offers a variety of terrain that can challenge any skiing or riding ability level.

Loveland

Just 53 miles from Denver, locals love Loveland for its free close-in parking, 400+ inches of snow each season, low-key atmosphere, lack of lift lines and 1,800 acres of varied terrain. Loveland Valley is a separate base area with gentle terrain perfect for beginners while The Ridge provides intermediate and advanced snow-riders terrain just the way they like it open, steep and deep. Come find out why theres more to love at Loveland.

Monarch

Located in South Central Colorado, Monarch Mountain is what you expect from a real Rocky Mountain ski area. Abundant natural snow (350+ inches) and friendly people are the two strongest attributes. Enjoy convenient parking, reasonable prices and runs that flow naturally back to the base. At Monarch, youll lose the crowds but not your friends. With Monarch Mountains Snowcat Tours, youll find great powder and 1200 acres of expert terrain.

Powderhorn

Head west to Powderhorn for some of Colorados best snow and a relaxed environment where families will feel at home. Whether youre an expert tree skier or new to snowsports, Powderhorn has something for everyone who skis, rides or telemarks. Located just east of Grand Junction, on the towering Grand Mesa, Powderhorn is known for having some of the best views and glade skiing in the state. Visit in March and load your bike or golf clubs right next to your skis.

Ski Cooper

Ski and Snowboard in an environment that offers something for everyone. Combined with the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center where you can experience 24 KM of groomed Nordic trails and 10 KM of snowshoe trails, our unique overnight Sleep Yurts and Ski Cooper is an experience you just cant pass up. Whatever your experience level, Ski Cooper has it all. Youll find some of the finest learning terrain in the country, as well as black diamond mogul runs and everything in-between, on our 35 lift-served trails with enjoyably short lift lines. We have great programs for skiers and snowboarders, kids and adults. The Best Deal Around!

Ski Granby Ranch

Fun lesson programs, convenient access and affordable prices make Ski

Granby Ranch a long-time family favorite. This mountain paradise is a genuine Colorado retreat with western charm and small-town friendliness that invites you to slow down and enjoy whats around you. Ski Granby Ranch offers a variety of dining options including its famous Granby Ranch Grill which comes complete with a sun-drenched, south-facing patio featuring panoramic views to soak in while you sip your favorite aprs drink. Ski Granby Ranch is the most family-friendly ski mountain in Colorado.

Sunlight

Sunlight gives you a full day of skiing for about half the cost of the mega resorts. Youll park for free, walk to the lifts and never stand in line. Without the crowds, the powder lasts for days. All 67 trails lead right to the lodge where you can stow your brown bag lunch or get something hot at the grill. No hassles. No hype. Its exactly what youve been missing. Sunlight is located just 12 miles south of Glenwood Springs, where you can aprs ski in the worlds largest hot springs pool and still find a room for under $100 a night.